FPL – Early Movers and Shakers

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With the GW1 transfer deadline looming in the horizon, FPL managers are in tinker mode. To aid this tinkering, this article aims to identify 4 players that are going to rise and 4 players that are going to drop in price within the first few weeks of the season. 

Historically the game has always had the most number of active players in the early half of the season. This results in a large number of price changes, especially in the earlier weeks of the season. If managers can navigate these price changes smartly – it can set them up to enter the latter half of the season with higher team values which then allow them to field some strong teams towards the end. I have personally used my first Wild Card within the first 5 weeks in the past 2 years and both years was able to finish with an overall TV of over £105. The high TV really enabled me to field 3 premiums while playing the likes of Trent and Chillwell in defense.

With that lets look at 4 players who I believe will gain value in the first couple gameweeks:

Dele Alli | TOT | MID | £6.5m | TSB: 1.1%
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Dele Alli had a down season under Jose Mourinho finishing with a disappointing 2 assists in 15 appearances of which only 7 were starts. It was clear to see early last season that Mourinho did not rate Dele and matters only got worse as Spurs season derailed. This down year should let us forget that this is the same Dele Alli who has had previous seasons of: 19/20 – 8G 6A in 25 apps, 17/18 6G 8A in 24 apps and 16/17 10G 4A in 21 appearances. This is the same Dele Alli who was not priced below £8.5 since the 16/17 season. It is obvious that Dele is criminally underpriced this season.

Having followed Spurs preseason games it is clear to see that things this year are very different. Alli has started every preseason friendly, in friendlies against Leyton Orient and Colchester in which he scored in, and against MK Dons he was even handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane. Dele has looked influential in every preseason game playing the role of the creator in chief from the midfield contributing with multiple goals and assists. With the uncertainty around Harry Kane who looks like he will most likely be playing for Manchester City this year – Dele has the opportunity to become the Robin to Sons Batman. The Dele-Assist Son-Goal combo could become a regular occurrence.

After a tricky fixture at home to City the run is pretty favorable for Spurs and I can see managers bringing in Dele en masse especially after a very gettable early haul against a leaky Wolves in GW2. 

Kostas Tsimikas | LIV | DEF | £4.0m | TSB: 1.4%
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Liverpool start the season with some of the best fixtures from a defensive perspective. They play Norwich and Burnley in GWs 1 and 2 before facing Chelsea at home in GW3. You can almost lock in CS for Liverpool against Burnley and Norwich – especially with the Liverpool defense improving over the summer with the signing of Konate and the impending return of Van Dijk. 

Andrew Robertson went down with a serious looking injury against Athletic Bilbao. At the time of writing the final medical results are not out yet but the injury looked serious and almost certainly points to a multi-week absence for Robbo. Tsimikas was the one who came on to replace Robbo in the second half. Stylistically he is a player who is very similar to Robbo – He’s a player who likes to bomb forward from full back and loves to cross the ball. He’s played a part in every preseason friendly and Liverpool fans have rated his performances through preseason. James Milner is now 35 years old and no longer has the legs to play an attacking fullback role.

Additionally with the injuries Liverpool have been facing in the midfield – Milner has been playing more of a midfielder role which is something I feel will continue throughout the season. Tsimikas is officially the backup for Robbo. He’s going to start against Norwich and Burnley in all likelihood and keep a CS. In addition to CS points there’s also an outside chance of an attacking return due to the pedigree of the opposition. I see FPL managers jumping on him as being a £4.0 starter on Liverpool and him gaining a £0.3 price rise before GW2.

Demarai Gray | EVE | MID | £5.5m | TSB: 0.3% 
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Demarai Gray made the £1.7m move to Everton this summer from Bayer Leverkusen. Everton have had their issues with midfields playing #10. With ​​Gylfi Sigurðsson under investigation from the authorities and James Rodriguez openly angling for a move away from the club, Demarai Gray will start the season as Everton’s starting #10. 

Rafa Benitez is a clear fan with him recently saying: “He’s a player who I followed for a while. He’s a talented player and he needs to be consistent – he knows that. Playing behind the striker is a position I wanted to see if he was capable of, like he did.” Everton have a very attack friendly start to the season starting with Southampton in GW1 followed by Leeds, Burnley and Brighton. Southampton have been decimated by player sales this summer – Danny Ings recently moved to Villa and there have been reports recently linking Vestergaard with a move to Leicester. They look vulnerable and primed to concede multiple goals every game. At £5.5m, Gray can offer a very cheap alternative to DCL and Richarlison to the Everton attack and I can see manager jumping on him after a start and a potential haul against a shaky Southampton in GW1.

Emile Smith Rowe | ARS | MID | £5.5m | TSB: 8.0% 
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Arsenal had a largely underwhelming season last season finishing 8th and ending with no European competition this season. The emergence of Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka was one of the few positives. ESR enters this season as not only the holder of the #10 at Arsenal but also as the starting #10. Martin Ødegaard is back at Real Madrid and is expected to spend the season in Spain. The pursuit of James Maddison has been unsuccessful so far. Additionally with Leicester’s history when negotiating for players I do not see them selling James Maddison easily.

The absence of European competition could be a blessing in disguise for Arsenal. It will allow Arsenal to focus solely on the Premier League and use the longer breaks in the week to implement more patterns in training. This could lead to a breakout season for ESR as confirmed by Arteta in his comments preseason: He knows that it (scoring) is a part of the game he needs to get better at. We are working on it a lot and you could see the positions that he took today. He created two or three big chances.” At just £5.5m ESR could provide an entry into an Arsenal attack that has a very favorable fixture run post GW3. I can see managers jumping on ESR for this run.

Now let’s look at 4 players who I believe will drop in value in the first couple gameweeks:

Ivan Toney | BRE | FWD | £6.5m | TSB: 30.4%
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Brentford have captured the imagination of football fans everywhere with their analytical approach to recruitment. At the second time of asking they gained promotion this year aided largely by Toney’s 33 goals and 10 assists. Managers clearly took notice of these numbers and at the time of writing Toney is the sixth highest owned player in the game behind fantasy giants Luke Shaw, Mo Salah, Bruno Fernandes, Emi Martinez and Jack Grealish.

While the quality is obvious I believe Toney is a trap early season. Brentford have a tricky start to the season playing Arsenal in GW1 who were the third best defense last season and added Ben White to bolster their defense, Crystal Palace who look transformed in preseason with solid defensive signings like Guehi and Andersen, Aston Villa in GW3 who have strengthened on the back of their summer recruitment adding Axel Tuanzebe £4.5m from Manchester United and Brighton in GW4 who are always solid defensively with strong underlying defensive numbers and should also have some of their injured players back.

Toney’s ownership could rapidly decrease in GWs 1 and 2 if he blanks due to the high ownership as well as the tough fixtures. This could lead to multiple price drops early in the season. I would rather take a wait and see approach to Toney and potentially look to add him post GW9 when I believe he should also be available at a cheaper price.

Stuart Dallas | LEE | MID | £5.5m | TSB: 17.0%
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Stuart Dallas was a fantasy darling in the 20/21 season finishing with a cool 171 points as a £4.5m OOP defender. Leeds as a team improved defensively throughout the season as well finishing the season much tighter defensively as compared to the start of the season when they leaked like a sieve. 

Dallas enters this season not only reclassified as a midfielder but also with a £1.0m increase in price. Additionally if you take away his CS points from last season accounting for a drop in bonus points Dallas finishes the season with a disappointing 120ish points. Dallas currently is the 7th highest owned midfielder and Leeds start their season off with tricky fixtures against Manchester United, Everton and Liverpool. Additionally this season we have a large number of high potential mid priced midfield options in players like ESR, Demarai Gray, Dele Alli, Ismalia Sarr, Emiliano Buendia and Said Benrahma. The tricky fixtures coupled with an absence of 4 CS points and a dearth of more high potential options around the same price point I would not be surprised to see a large number of managers jump ship post blanks early leading to a drop in price.

Mason Mount | CHE | MID | £7.5m | TSB: 20.2% 
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Mason Mount had a breakout season last year with 6G 7A in 36 appearances finishing as arguably Chelsea’s best player. He was the most nailed midfielder on Chelsea and projects to start this year as Chelsea’s most nailed midfielder as well.

Mount currently is the fifth most owned midfielder only behind Mo Salah, Bruno, Jack Grealish and Raphina. Chelsea start the season with a tricky run of fixtures. While the opening fixture against Palace looks to be easy on paper – Palace have transformed this offseason under Viera and have recruited very smartly in defense adding Jochim Anderson and Marc Guehi. Post GW1 Chelsea then face Arsenal, Liverpool, Aston Villa, Spurs and Manchester City. Additionally there will be midfielders at £7.5m who I believe are going to start the season hot like Mason Greenwood and Diogo Jota. I see managers jumping off Mount in droves to one of these players after GW1 to avoid the tough Chelsea fixture run and leading to multiple price drops. 

Phil Foden | MCI | MID | £8.0m | TSB: 9.4%
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Phil Foden has always been the ultimate enigma. A player who quintessentially embodies the Pep Roulette. Score a brace one week and get benched for the next week. Last season was no different – You could never predict when Foden would play but when he would start he would offer incredible value as a low price attacking entry into the Manchester City attack.

Pep recently confirmed that Phil Foden would be “out for a while”. Additionally even after returning from injury it’s going to take time for Foden to ramp up and the Pep Roulette this year will only be intensified with the addition of Jack Grealish. Despite these factors inexplicably Phil Foden is owned by 9.4% of all players! Once players find out hes not starting and is injured post GW1 they are going to drop him early and often leading to multiple price drops. Foden is a STRONG AVOID to start the season. Be smart don’t buy Foden!

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